GK Chesterton is one of my favorite authors. If you aren’t familiar with him, he is an incredible wit with a great gift for paradox, for showing how often the truth can seem contrary to our expectations. As I travel through his homeland of the UK, I remember his belief that we leave home primarily for the joy of returning to it. “It is not my fault, it is the truth, that the only way to go to England is to go away from it.”
Travel can certainly broaden a person’s perspective, but it can also narrow our mind. We have to remember that we see the world as a guest, but we know home as a family member. This isn’t something that cheapens the value of travel, but an important truth to keep in mind. After all, we tend to be focused on the new experiences, taking the surface impression as a reality. With our home, on the other hand, we know it so well that we can start to see only the problems.
For Chesterton, a proud son of England, he was too attentive to not recognize the various difficulties facing his home, but he also knew the importance of keeping an awareness of all its strengths and blessings as well. Few things were more helpful for this than travel. In experiencing France and Germany, he has many joys, but none quite so great as the joy of returning home to England, finding it fresh and new.
This is true of traveling to find home, but it’s also true of everything else in our lives. If we find our life to be dull, boring, or empty, it is because we are becoming numb to the goodness of it. Life is a blessing. It is not our circumstances or our home that is dull, it is our eyes. We need to find a way to remove the fog from our eyes so that we can see God’s extraordinary goodness in our ordinary lives.
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